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Mike and Cindy Watts are known for their generous civic involvement and investment, a passion that began with their west Phoenix neighborhood of Maryvale and now extends to the Arizona State University community.
The Watts are co-founders of Sunstate Equipment, a highly successful equipment rental company that began in Arizona in 1977 and has expanded to ten other states. They both grew up in Maryvale, where they met during a high school graduation ceremony. At the time, Maryvale was a newly-developed suburb. However, like many ‘inner-ring’ suburbs, Maryvale began experiencing urban decline in the 1980s and '90s.
To reverse this, the Watts made leadership gifts to the Maryvale YMCA and endowed the Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, an initiative of ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions that now bears their name. They have also gifted a generous amount to the Jewish Family & Children’s Services’ new Catalina Health Center, in their ongoing commitment to the community they grew up in.
“I have always felt that giving people a reason to be optimistic, to believe in dreams is important. Part of the initiative that we hope to work with the college on is the development of that: a belief system—not just in themselves, but in the opportunities that exist.
The Watts have been engaged with the university since 1988 and are lifetime members of the ASU President's Club. In October 2015, they made a transformative investment to name the Watts Center for Academic Excellence and Championship Life, an initiative within Sun Devil Athletics dedicated to the success of the university’s student-athletes. In addition to these ASU commitments, Cindy also has served as co-chair of the Women & Philanthropy program at the ASU Foundation for A New American University and currently serves as vice-chair of the Trustees of ASU, an advisory body for the university and ASU President Michael M. Crow.
In February 2018, the ASU Alumni Association honored Mike and Cindy Watts as Philanthropists of the Year at its annual Founders’ Day event, which recognizes alumni, faculty, and university supporters who have contributed to the growth and evolution of ASU.
The Watts are dedicated to using their resources, both financial and personal, to elevate the quality of life for all in our community and state.